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Family of Isabel Celis Questioned

Aired May 2, 2012 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from New York City.

Breaking news in the search for missing 6-year-old Isabel Celis. Cops call family members back to the scene of the crime. Mom, Dad, the brother all taken back to the home one by one and questioned by detectives at the very place where this little child vanished. Why? We are on the scene. We`ve got all the late-breaking developments next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, could there be a break in the hunt for adorable Isabel Celis? Just hours ago, a team of detectives raced into the family home with little Isabel`s parents in tow. Cops say they now have sensitive top-secret information that could be the key to solving the 6-year-old`s disappearance.

We are live on the ground and investigating this mystery, and we`re taking your calls.

Plus, public outrage over a viral video of a North Carolina pastor encouraging parents to punch children. I`ll show you the outrageous sermon, and I`ll talk live with a pastor you may have heard of, Ted Haggard.

And infamous ladies` man Charlie Sheen wants to strip a sushi-serving strip club of the right to use his name, allegedly because it`s ruining his reputation. Yes, that`s right. Charlie Sheen. I`ll have the details.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still no sign of a 6-year-old girl.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A possible sexual assault ten miles away from where Isabel disappeared.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The actual feeling in this town is everyone`s scared. They`re very worried. There are two incidents that happened very close to each other.

LT. FABIAN PACHECO, TUCSON POLICE: There`s some work being done, but please have patience with us because much of that information I can`t talk to you about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police wouldn`t elaborate on whether or not they think there are connections to the two cases, but that is a possibility.

PACHECO: We`ve had a young 6-year-old girl abducted from her home. This really rings near and dear and close to our hearts, and it troubles all of us here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re looking for you, Isa. We love you and we miss you so much, and we will never give up. We will never give up looking for you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news, huge developments this afternoon in the case of missing 6-year-old Isabel Celis. Detectives just a little while ago hauled one family member after another back to the home where the child disappeared.

Just hours ago, investigators raced to the child`s home. You see them. They`re going inside, and they slam the door behind them. One by one, cops haul in first the dad and then the mother. I believe you`re seeing the mother right there. And then their older son, OK?

So they take them each into the house one by one, and family members are kept inside with detectives each for a good 45 minutes. So much movement at this house.

Now, we`ve got video for you of the missing child`s mother as you just saw coming and going from the house. Cops didn`t stop at the nearby grandparents` home to drop her off after they talked to her, so who knows where they took her? Here she is, emotional during the one time she spoke out publicly last week.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re looking for you, Isa. We love you and we miss you so much. And we will never give up. We will never give up looking for you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don`t want the focus to be taken off Isabel by us being in front of the cameras or by the media. We are here today to play -- to plea for a safe return of our baby girl, Isabel.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But today, Mom wasn`t talking to reporters. She may have been talking to detectives.

The cops also came out of the house with a large towel, and they went to the trunk of the car, of the detective`s car. They pulled something out and covered it up to keep it from the media and then took it back into the child`s house.

Later, a detective left with what looked like a comforter or a blanket of some sort.

The last person to go into the house is Isabel`s older brother. There you see him going in, a little young man, white T-shirt and a cap, followed by a slew of detectives. People were in the home when the 6-year-old vanished, and they`re talking to the people who were in the home. What does it all mean? Why are they questioning this family one by one?

Give me a call with your theories: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my senior producer, Selin Darkalstanian. She is outside the home where this all went down. She saw what happened today.

Give us the play by play. Tell us exactly what you saw with your own eyes, Selin.

SELIN DARKALSTANIAN, "ISSUES" SENIOR PRODUCER: It was incredible. There has been no activity around the house for a few days, because you have to remember, the family has left the home. Isabel`s family is staying in a secret location, so they`re actually not living in this house behind me at the moment.

But today, the dad showed up with detectives, from a secret location; showed up, went inside looking very solemn, looking down with about six, seven detectives and went inside. Stayed there for about 45 minutes to an hour. Then he came out, didn`t say a word, got in the car, left.

Then about three minutes later, the mom came. The detectives showed up with the mom and took her inside the house and questioned her for about an hour. Then they left.

And then a short while later we thought it was all done with. Here come the detectives again with the son, with Isabel`s brother. And they take him inside and questioned him for about the same amount of time and take him away.

It was -- it`s very interesting, because you have to wonder why are they questioning these family members again? Why are they questioning them separately? Do they suspect something? Do they suspect a family member or are they really just questioning them to find out more details?

It was -- it was all playing out in front of our eyes as they were going in and coming out. And possibly, the moment that was really almost a little like you`re watching a scene out of "CSI," the cop comes out, goes to her trunk with a beach towel, puts it in the trunk, wraps something inside the beach towel, and then walks back into the house. And this is while they were questioning the dad.

Whatever was in that trunk she didn`t want the media to see. What was in that trunk? It was an item she didn`t want us to see. So she specifically took that towel and wrapped it in the towel and walked back in.

So we were all wondering what is inside that trunk? Do they have a piece of evidence? Where is that item, and what does it mean?

And then later, as all the questioning ended and they were coming out again, one of the detectives had in her hand a comforter or a blanket. Was it Isabel`s comforter or blanket? Is it another piece of evidence from the house?

So definitely a lot of activity going on. Detectives obviously not saying anything. We were asking them questions as they were walking in and walking out. But Jane, it was definitely -- something is happening. We don`t know quite what it is at this point. But we do know that the family was questioned separately today inside the house.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just to clarify, when they went and they took that thing out of the vehicle, that was a detective`s vehicle that they took that out of, correct?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. So I just want to make that clear because...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Something that they picked up. It wasn`t out of the family car. It was out of a detective`s car. And they didn`t take it out -- I mean, they first went into the house with this thing.

So I`ve got to bring in Tom Shamshack, former police chief, Boston, Massachusetts, and you were a detective. I was there when you taught a whole course in Massachusetts to up-and-coming future detectives. You know how this stuff works. Put -- put your Sherlock Holmes cap on. What does this mean?


Well, what`s occurring here is that the law enforcement investigators are reconstructing the crime scene. They`re taking each family member into that home. And they`re locking them into a statement as to the timeline: where they were, what was going on.

And that piece of evidence, they may have found something, and they want to know where was it originally located in the home?

And then they`re going to look at the three statements and see if there are inconsistencies, discrepancies, and they`re wrapping it up.

I`d like to just not that you`ll see that there`s been no exchange of hugs or anything between the parents. They`re really distanced from one another. Maybe an accident or something occurred here. I`m just, you know, speculating at this point, but this is a very strange case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now here`s what cops said just minutes ago about all the action at the home where this child vanished. Listen and we`ll analyze.


PACHECO: We have returned to the home just to speak with them there and evaluate the scene there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So this is what I`d like to know, Jon Lieberman, investigative reporter. They have already interviewed the family at length. Again, why interview them in the house? And why take this mystery piece of evidence from a detective`s car and bring it into the house and then possibly leave with the same evidence, again covered by a comforter?

JON LIEBERMAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Let me tell you, Jane, what`s happening here. What you`re watching on the screen was carefully orchestrated by detectives. They want to send a message.

They didn`t need to do this in the middle of the day. They didn`t need take each family member in one at a time at this time. They`re trying to send a message, and that message, I believe, is twofold.

No. 1, they are in charge of this investigation, and they`re making progress. And No. 2, they`re trying to send a message to whomever the target of this investigation is, and they`re trying to put pressure on that person, saying, "Look, we have the family members. We are pressing them. They`re telling us certain things." And if anybody connected to the family is involved here, they`re going to get to the bottom of it right now.

So this police department hasn`t parsed words. They`ve been very careful with their word choice. And I believe they were very careful to stage this, as well, as a well-orchestrated event for the cameras to send a message.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Again, this is video that is just in a little while ago. It was shot, our producer standing right there in the front yard of the Celis home where this child vanished about 11 days ago.

There`s the mother being taken into the home by detectives. They did the same thing with the dad. They did the same thing with the older sibling, who looks like he could be maybe 12, 13 years old. I don`t have the exact age.

And then they leave with them, and we don`t know where they took this mom. And they`re not talking to the media. It`s unbelievable.

Let`s go to the phone lines. Diana, Pennsylvania. Your question or thought, Diana.

CALLER: Hi, Jane. First I`d like to say I enjoy watching your show, and I try to catch it as many nights as I can.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. I hope you keep watching.

CALLER: I wanted to comment on the mother`s behavior. My son was abducted when he was 4 years old. This was back in 1985.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, I`m sorry.

CALLER: And the first thing I did was shut down. I couldn`t do anything. I couldn`t -- really, I couldn`t even move.

And after -- back then it was a lot different. After a while I realized that, if I was going get him back, because it was -- my ex- husband`s family who took him, and I realized if I was going to get him back that that I had to find him myself. And then there wasn`t anybody who could have stopped me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Well, what -- I understand your point is you`re trying to say that whatever this mother is doing, it is justified or it`s weird? Just wrap it up, if you could. And I appreciate your story.

CALLER: Well, I just -- if a child is missing, you do everything you can to find it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I think, Diane, you made a very important point. And I want to -- on the other side of the break we`re going to talk to Mark Lunsford.

Now, his little precious, angelic daughter, Jessica, was kidnapped from her home by a sexual predator who took her across the street close by where he kept her, despite the fact that authorities were searching. They knocked on that door. They didn`t find her. And he was a suspect initially.

And one of the reasons why maybe they took so long to find her and didn`t find her in time was because they had their sights set in the wrong direction.

On the other side we`re going to talk to Mark Lunsford, who lost his daughter to a sexual predator, about what this family could be going through and just the nightmare of this entire ordeal.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love you, and we miss you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isabel was last seen in this home by her parents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`ve been interviewed extensively.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re cooperating to the fullest extent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re labeling it as suspicious circumstances and a possible abduction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New details about what may have happened that Saturday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember briefly waking up and hearing male voices outside my bedroom window.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are here today to play -- to plea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we will never give up. We will never give up looking for you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Late-breaking news in the disappearance of little Isabel Celis. Just a little while ago, a flurry of activity at the home where she vanished.

First, the dad shows up with just a slew of detectives in tow. He rushes into the garage. About 45 minutes later, he walks out with a grocery bag and leaves with two detectives.

Three minutes later they bring in Isabel`s mother, alone. They take her inside the home. She leaves with detectives. We don`t know where they took her.

Finally, little Isabel`s older brother goes in the home. There he is, in a white T-shirt and a cap. A whole slew of detectives behind him. Family members were each questioned for about 45 minutes.

And at one point a detective walks out with a towel, covers something in the trunk and takes that object inside. Later, one investigator takes what looks like a blanket or comforter from the house and leaves with it. You`ve got to wonder what all this is about. People are wondering, well, does that mean that the cops think the family is involved?

Well, Mark Lunsford, you are one of my heroes. You`ve experienced the unimaginable. Your precious daughter, Jessica, the girl in the pink hat as she is known and loved by millions across America, was taken by a sick, sick, demented, evil predator and was kept in a trailer not far from your home.

And at first cops were looking at you, right? And that exacerbated your nightmarish ordeal, Mark?

MARK LUNSFORD, FATHER OF JESSICA: It`s -- it`s very overwhelming. I mean, law enforcement does right off the bat, you know, because of the statistics show that, you know, it`s always most likely someone within the family when it`s a child like this. There is a lot of cases where it`s stranger danger and, you know, where it`s totally someone you don`t know.

I can`t imagine what these parents are going through. But I mean, what you`re seeing is just what has to be done. They have to pound every person until they can totally release them from being, you know, someone of interest.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did they do the same to you?

LUNSFORD: They did it to me and my parents. More to my parents more than me. You know, they questioned me a lot for the first three days, and then they moved on to my parents.

But, you know, that`s why they get polygraphs and a lot of different other things, and -- but the cops ain`t really telling people a whole lot about this, about what they`ve done, who passed a polygraph. They`re kind of keeping things tight-lipped right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Alicia Stardevant, you`re the next-door neighbor of the Celis family. What is your reaction to this latest development?

ALICIA STARDEVANT, NEIGHBOR: I am just -- I am in shock. I think this whole community is kind of in shock over everything that`s happened this last week, week and a half. It`s pretty scary.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You heard, at 6:30 in the morning, your dog woke up barking. The other dogs barking. The Celis family barks. More on the other...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More from Tucson in a moment, but first, your "Viral Video of the Day."






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One night my husband walked into the bedroom while I was lying in bed and said, "Pick up the phone. There`s a man watching you through your window."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In addition to all this breaking news about all the activity going on at the Celis home, ten miles away we can`t forget about the man hunt for a suspect.

Cops say this guy broke into a bedroom where three little girls were sleeping and sexually assaulted, at least one of them. This happened Sunday into Monday. Neighbors were terrified.

This is the guy they`re looking for. Kids are sleeping with baseball bats. Parents are boarding up windows.

And you just heard that woman talking about how she also left that neighborhood because of a peeping tom who was harassing, or toms, plural, harassing women in the neighborhood.

Now, Alicia Stardevant, again, you are ten miles away near the Celis home from where these three girl had to confront this predator who broke into their home Sunday night into Monday. Has that affected your perception of this case? Because some people have said, wow, you know, it could be the same person who might be connected to Isabel`s disappearance and to this assault on these kids three miles away -- ten miles away.

STARDEVANT: Right. Well, I don`t think anyone should ever rule anything out. But as far as it being connected to the Celis` case, I obviously -- I couldn`t say. My -- my opinion is that it`s not. I think this is just something else that happened. It happened to be very close to home.

But again, I think they should definitely look into it as far as this being connected with the Celis` case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Have you had any other chance to contemplate what you heard the morning that Isabel disappeared? Six-thirty, you heard your dogs started barking. The Celis` dogs barking. And you heard men`s voices. Any other thoughts on that issue?

STARDEVANT: Well, I just think this whole neighborhood and me, especially hearing these people, it`s kind of affected me a lot. I`ve had actually a couple of nightmares a couple of nights and guys breaking into my home trying to take me for hearing them. I think it`s pretty scary for people around here it being so close to home.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I absolutely agree, and my heart goes out to everybody. Dr. Brian Russell, forensic psychologist. Kids are sleeping with baseball bats next to their beds. There is very fundamentally wrong.

And it seems like everywhere we turn we hear people living in fear, women and children living in fear, primarily.

DR. BRIAN RUSSELL, FORENSIC CALLER: Yea. And it`s particularly the case, I think, because we don`t do enough when we actually catch these people.

And think about how many cases you and I cover, where we finally find the perpetrator, that we`ve had them in custody before and yet we caught and released. It`s ridiculous.

Let me just mention one other thing. The detective astutely observed that the police are trying to look for inconsistencies in the stories coming out of people who live in that house. There`s another thing that`s separating out people and interviewing them individually enables the police to do.

And actually, Mark Lunsford can tell you about that in his own experience which is that it enables them to be able to tell one interviewee or to suggest to one interviewee that a different interviewee may have said something that maybe they did or didn`t even say.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good point. OK. Mark, I`ll give you the final word.

LUNSFORD: Yea. That`s absolutely right. They have to question everybody separately.

But I mean, let`s keep in mind, too. What`s to say that it wasn`t a sex offender that came from another state? You know, so I mean, that`s why we need to get tougher with our laws and let the law enforcement conduct their....


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people are upset by a Baptist pastor who told parents that they should hit their children if they start to act gay.

SEAN HARRIS, BAPTIST PASTOR: Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was preaching about this because North Carolina will soon vote on an amendment banning same-sex marriage.

HARRIS: And when your daughter starts acting too butch you rein her in.

You say, "Can I take charge like this as a parent?" Yes, you can. You`re authorized. I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Oh, boy. Tonight, a firestorm of controversy over a sermon that`s gone viral and you might say a pastor has gone wild. Viewed by millions and criticized coast to coast.

Jane Velez-Mitchell, back with you live from New York City.

In a moment I`ll be talking to famed pastor Ted Haggard about this new controversy. Pastor Sean Harris of Fayetteville North Carolina told his congregants to literally, literally beat their children if they deviate from what you might call stereotypical gender behavior. Listen to him in his own very controversial words from his Baptist church.


HARRIS: Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch, ok? You`re not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you`re going to be a male.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yikes. You see your son dropping the limp wrist, he suggests give him a good punch. As this video went viral, critics immediately accused him of advocating violence against children.

We reached out to Pastor Harris. He did not get back to us but he said this in his defense.


HARRIS: If I had to do it again, would I say it differently? Yes. Yes, I would and everyone on the congregation on that morning understood that there was no intent in any way, shape or form that I meant to break a wrist.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But that`s what you said. Critics complain the so- called man of God is outright advocating violence against children especially violence against boys who don`t measure up to some kind of macho stereotype that he has formed in his mind. Not to mention girls who want to grab a shovel and dig a ditch. We`ll get to that in a second.

Critics are saying this is homophobic bullying, sexist bullying and it could lead to physical abuse against all sorts of children. And he`s using his position of authority as a clergyman to spread these violent ideas.

Give me a call, 1-877-JVM-SAYS. I do want to hear from you.

Joining me tonight, Pastor Ted Haggard; he needs no introduction. I think we all know Pastor Ted Haggard. And he is the pastor of St. James Church in Colorado Springs and president or past president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Past president, right?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. What do you make of this minister and what he`s saying, Ted?

HAGGARD: Well, I don`t think he intended to say be violent or intended to create harm or an atmosphere of harm for people that are struggling with their sexual orientation. However, when things like this are said it does lead to that. And I think he forgot that the scripture says that it`s God`s kindness that leads us all to repentance. Everybody needs correction, but we need correction in an atmosphere of love and nurturing and wholesome attitudes toward one another and certainly respect. And so I think the outrage is called for.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, everybody needs correction, but not necessarily correction because they have a limp wrist or a girl wants to dig a shovel. You know, in the old days they called that a tomboy, by the way.

HAGGARD: That`s right.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: After the story broke Pastor Harris issued a retraction on his Web site or the Baptist church Web site. Let`s listen to what he had to say and then we`ll talk more about it.


HARRIS: I have never suggested children or those in the LGBT lifestyle should be beaten, punched, abused either physically or psychologically in any form or fashion. I apologize to anyone I have unintentionally offended. I did not say anything to intentionally offend anyone in the LGBT community.

However, I do not apologize for the manner in which the Word of God articulates sexual immorality including homosexuality and effeminacy that is an abomination to God.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: As he would define it.

Here`s the thing, Ted. Here is my feeling about this. I have compassion about this individual because I think he is very sick. I think he needs to go into therapy and find out what`s really going on with him.

I happen to be holding an article from the "New York Times that says "Homophobic? Maybe you`re gay." I just read it this past weekend and it says, quote --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- "Researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result at least in part from the suppression of same-sex desire." I have to wonder, what`s going on with this guy subconsciously? Do you have any thoughts on that?

HAGGARD: Yes. I`m not a therapist, but I can tell you that he`s missing the point of the scripture. Jesus was perfectly clear when he said if you even look at another person with lust in your heart you committed adultery already. His point was that everybody is in need of grace. Everybody is in need of love.

And he, this pastor seems intent on focusing on one group that he thinks is a problem where he himself is the problem and all of us are the problem which is why Jesus died for everyone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Pastor, what about yourself. Can you tell us anything about your personal response to this particular situation?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Like how it touches your heart or causes introspection or your feelings about it?

HAGGARD: Well, I thought it did two things. Number one, it would make anybody struggling with anything sexual in his church want to hide. Number two, it did encourage violence. Number three, it did not encourage wholesome atmosphere in the home that`s nurturing either in the home or the church and it missed the whole point of the New Testament and the cross.

And so I was dismayed by it because it was the type of dualistic thinking that causes all of us that if we go through the struggle, we tend to do it privately or we think we`re demon-possessed or whatever. Where, in fact, God wants to heal us, nurture us, strengthen us and work with all of us in a loving fashion.

And so, I was very, very sad when I saw this. I felt sad for the pastor, the church, but it reflects the type of dualistic thinking that is throughout much of evangelicalism and that`s got to be reversed. Otherwise, we are sentencing ourselves to being branded as hateful people which the core church is not hateful, but some of these types of interpretations are, in fact, hateful.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just want to thank you for coming on and for talking about this. And I wish you the very best. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. Thank you again, Pastor Ted Haggard from the St. James Church, Colorado Springs.

HAGGARD: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. It`s a very interesting subject, and here is more from Pastor Harris` sermon. Listen to his advice on how to deal with young girls.


HARRIS: And when your daughter starts acting too butch you rein her in. You say oh, no. Oh, no, sweetheart, you can play sports. Play them. Play them to the glory of God, but sometimes you`re going to act like a girl and walk like a girl, talk like a girl and smell like a girl. And that means you`re going to be beautiful, you`re going to be attractive. You`re going to dress yourself up.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Brian Russell, forensic psychologist; again, I feel sorry for this person in the sense that while I think he`s very dangerous, and I think he shouldn`t have a pulpit to preach hate from, I also think that he is probably suffering internally.

There is something called reaction formation which I was referring to when I was talking to Ted Haggard. He didn`t want to talk about it, he wanted to talk about this pastor, but we know that he had a scandal of his own and it was alleged that he was involve with a male escort and he resigned from his ministry and went through a whole personal transformation.

I think that it takes a lot of courage for him to come on and talk about anything related to this subject, and I applaud him for doing so. But there was something on the psychological term call reaction formation where, you know, you spot it, you got it is another basic way to say it, Dr. Russell.

DR. BRIAN RUSSELL, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes. It`s a Freudian, psychological defense mechanism, Jane and it kind of gets to what you were talking about with the research that was discussed in the "New York Times" article about how homophobia reflects. And I think it`s stretching the evidence to say that every homophobe is a closet homosexual, but I think that it is true that homophobia reflects a lack of confidence and comfort in the homophobe around issues of their own sexuality.

I think this particular preacher thinks that he is looking out for kids` spiritual best interest but he`s missing a couple of very important other parental concerns.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, he does not. I think this is a guy that is --

RUSSELL: Somebody who reacted this way to effeminate behavior for example from a male child --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s drunk with power. He`s drunk with power.

RUSSELL: -- could instill just exactly the kind of self-loathing in the child that I`ve seen in adolescents struggling so much with homosexual thoughts that they`re suicidal about it. It could also -- if the child is not --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let just say this, Pastor, heal thyself. Pastor, heal thyself. Get some help. You need help, dude. You are really, really, really suffering. I feel it. All right.


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CHARLIE SHEEN, ACTOR: I just landed. We had a police escort and we ran more red lights than Brooke Mueller heading to a pawn shop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then, of course, his one-man show just flopped and the so-called goddesses have split. They`ve taken flight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m sure Charlie Sheen will bring epicness because he`s the warlock and he`s a great entertainer.

SHEEN: Let`s say, pay me. Everybody wins.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Infamous ladies man and former warlock Charlie Sheen is threatening to sue a strip club? No, this is not April Fool`s Day. I know, you think Charlie Sheen and stripper and you think lap dance, not lawsuit, but it`s true.

Charlie`s lawyer sent over a cease-and-desist letter telling the Cheetah`s Gentleman`s Club in New York City stop using Charlie`s name for his VIP lounge. The VIP room charge $250 per person to eat sushi off of one of the club`s scantily-clad goddesses. And we`re going to show you the practice of the sushi eating and there`s a little example of it right there and we`ve got some other video of a generic sushi eating on goddesses. This is what the controversy is all about.

The strip club owner says this is about protecting Charlie`s reputation to which I say, "What reputation?" Let`s look at Charlie`s career implosion from Ustream and ABC.


SHEEN: Now that I have your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) attention, set back and rejoice.

(inaudible) If his soul was inhabited by the ghost of (inaudible) and now he will murder people and he will eat trolls with his razor fangs.

I am on a drug. It`s called Charlie Sheen.

Phones are built by trolls. Keep that in mind. Phones are built by trolls.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Charlie`s lawyers say this is just a standard request, quote, "And cannot use a celebrity`s name to promote a business without permission," end quote. That simple.

Straight out to Cheetah`s Gentlemen`s Club owner, Sam Zherka, Charlie says you are more interested in ridiculing and embarrassing Charlie in order to drum up media attention. What do you say to that?

SAM ZHERKA, OWNER, CHEETAH`S GENTLEMEN`S CLUB: I think it`s baloney, basically. The fact that they think that the affiliation with a gentleman`s club, which is a constitutionally protected activity that the right to express yourself would defame a confessed, self-confessed drug addict and crackhead is defamation in itself against the club.

I think Charlie Sheen years ago before he confessed to being a drug addict was as American as apple pie. And all of a sudden we saw apple pie which was filled with cocaine and crack and prostitutes and all of this other stuff, and it was a big letdown. It was a big letdown for his followers, a big letdown for the people who were his fans and when all of this stuff was going on a year ago we felt sorry for Charlie Sheen.

So we didn`t promote our gentleman`s club around Charlie Sheen. We just -- opened up a room dedicated to Charlie Sheen to try to support this sick individual who confessed to being a drug addict. We tried to support him. We didn`t try to use our business and try to --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You, sir, are the picture of mental health where you derive your income from putting sushi on almost naked ladies.

Dylan Howard, editor-in-chief of Weigh in here. Is this just a battle between equally -- let`s say, goddess-obsessed dudes?

DYLAN HOWARD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF CELEBBUZZ.COM: Well, Jane, I must say, it is rather disingenuous from your guest. Because quite frankly, this is against the law; this is a case of publicity rights. A star who must protect their image and likeness and just like you or I wouldn`t be able to do it, you cannot use the image of any celebrity to endorse a product that indeed they are not involved in.

And there have been cases like this in the past. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, despite the fact that they had separated a year after they divorced, they successfully sued a company -- a makeup company that had incorrectly used their image without their authorization. So, too, did Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker. This is simple law.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m more curious now about the women with the sushi on them. I`ve forgotten about Charlie Sheen.

Sam, do they volunteer for that or is that something like if you want to work here you`ve got to have sushi on you?

ZHERKA: No. We have girls that volunteer for that. They get paid somewhere between $250 and $300 for the hour to sit there with the cellophane on them and to have sushi served on them. It`s a voluntary thing. Women want to do it, they come in and do it and they get paid for it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You don`t think it`s exploitation?

ZHERKA: Absolutely not. I don`t think it`s exploitation at all. We don`t force anybody to do it. If you want to do it, you do it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More Charlie Sheen in a second. But first, you and me, we all deserve a laugh break.






VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s Times Square right over there, and over here is ground zero of the controversy, Cheetah`s strip club. Now, these guys had named their VIP lounge in honor of Charlie Sheen until they got slapped with a "cease and desist" letter from Charlie`s lawyers.

Now they were apparently upset about this. I don`t know why because doesn`t Charlie have like a long and storied history with scantily-clad women?

SHEEN: The whole thing called plan better.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So yesterday I tripped over my dress and I fell up the stairs.

SHEEN: Plan better. Plan better.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was one of his goddesses from Ustream.

Sam Zherka, owner of Cheetah`s Gentlemen`s Club in New York; so, how long did you have the Charlie Sheen room up and running, and did people come in and say, oh, I want to go to the Charlie Sheen lounge?

ZHERKA: I`ll be honest with you, we started it about just over a year ago but absolutely no one came in looking to go into the Charlie Sheen lounge. I think using the name we did it more so to support Charlie Sheen because I really was a fan of his. I watched a lot of his movies like "Platoon", you know, years ago. And it was a big letdown and I really felt sorry are for the guy after being clobbered by the press for that three or four months or five months of time in which he was basically heading towards disaster, self-inflicted disaster.

Nobody really came to the club looking for the Charlie Sheen lounge. People come to these kind of clubs for the adult entertainment. They want to see beautiful women entertaining, expressing themselves on stage.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Especially with sushi on them, right?

ZHERKA: Well, that`s different.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s the thing. Charlie used to love to make fun of himself. He used to have a funny sense of humor about himself. Listen to this from Funny or Die.


SHEEN: Hello. I`m Charlie Sheen, and this is Charlie Sheen`s winning recipes. Yes, I`m doing a cooking show. Why? Because if you haven`t noticed I`m winning television right now. My plan is to be the first person to have made an appearance on every television network just like I was the first person to get 1 million Twitter followers in 24 hours.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dylan Howard,, has he lost his sense of humor?

HOWARD: No, he hasn`t, Jane. If you actually look back to when he filmed that particular Funny or Die skit, Charlie has always been about maintaining his likeness and image. Indeed, in the wake of that apparent meltdown, he was sending off cease and desist letters to those that were manufacturing products around that catch phrase, "winning". So he`s long aimed to protect his image.

His reputation, though, on the other hand, Charlie would agree it`s almost like trying to defend Charlie Manson.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. That is harsh, even I wouldn`t say that.

Steve, Maine -- we`re getting right to the phone lines. Steve, Maine, your question or thoughts.

STEVE, MAINE (via telephone): It`s nice to talk to you. I`ve been trying for several days to get through to you.

It`s not a question, it`s just an observation. I think Charlie Sheen has the right to be a little upset about them using his name. But I don`t think he should be that upset. I think he needs help and he should go to somebody to get help because he is a womanizer and a drug person. I have watched him on TV, different shows, and I do like him. But I can understand him being upset, as I said about them using his name. But I don`t know --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. I think he needs help.



SHEEN: Wow. And then what? What`s the cure? Medicine? Make me like them. Not going to happen. I`m bi-winning; I win here and I win there. Now what? Last time I took drugs I probably took more than anybody could survive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are we talking about? How much?

SHEEN: I don`t know, man, I was banging seven gram rocks and finishing them because that`s how I roll. I have one speed. I have one gear. Go.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s from ABC. What`s go next for Charlie? Where is he going -- Dylan?

HOWARD: Well, he`s got his new show coming out Jane, "Anger Management" on FX. Many will be watching to see whether or not he does indeed make parody of himself and his situation with "Two and a Half Men" 12 months ago. All eyes in Hollywood watching this comeback.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, he`s an interesting guy. Even when he was just steeped in his disease he was clever and had a turn of phrase. I think if he really gets emotionally sober he could redeem himself.

Nancy next.